With issues concerning women consistently headlining in the news in not just the past few weeks (ex. Malala Yousafzai), but for months now with examples like Todd Akin, I want to take some time to write about one aspect that goes unmentioned. Many of these discussions about women show a fear and lack of understanding and appreciation of women, feminine energy and female bodies. This fear and misunderstanding goes down to even the naming of our bodily parts.
From The Vagina Monologues to vajazzling, consistently the name of the female genital area in English is incorrectly used. It is not the vagina, that is just the pathway to the cervix; the entire region is actually called the vulva. Now if we get that wrong and don’t care to correct it, what does that say about how we address a female’s body and women in general (cis-gendered, transgendered and others in between). We are basically reduced down to our uterus and the pathway to it.
If we look back in time through the figures and statues left behind, we see that the female genital was not hidden, but looked at as powerful:
I came across this poster from Suppressed Histories while looking for the Sheela-Na-Gig sculpture (at bottom, second to the right). The sculpture reminded me of the vesica piscis, which is associated with the Jesus fish, ichthys. But we live in a world where if a woman has her legs open, it is seen as vulgar, and god forbid she has no underwear on. All hell breaks loose and people are quick to call out how disgusting they think her vulva looks. Take for instance, Lil’ Kim’s moment last year. What you never seen one? Speaking of Lil’ Kim, remember this picture from her first album, Hard Core, which Nicki Minaj ended up copying:
In the past, I would have seen this and said, “close your legs.” But now I look at it and wonder should I be ashamed of this. Maybe it is an empowering image. Although I do find Lil’ Kim problematic at times, I can appreciate her mythology of the pussy, as Rob Marriott called it — “the power, pleasure and politics of it, the murky mixture of emotions and commerce that sex has become in popular culture.” One reason that picture above causes controversy is because of the notion that “sex sells” and that a woman has to be hypersexual to sell records. Lil’ Kim has to walk the line between selling her sexuality and embracing it completely. Although a lot of her songs detail getting the money, a lot of them include her telling men to give her oral, something that is still considered taboo for some, whereas the other way around is considered normal. So, I will look at that picture as a modern day vulva, yoni, or whatever we call it, figure because what I have is magical and sacred.
Here is some links for further interest in Lil’ Kim, and the vulva:
Genital plastic surgery is on the rise. Read article here.